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How to Start Food Storage for Beginners: A Food Storage Essentials Plan

Emergency food storage essentials is not rocket science. It’s rather simple. It all starts with a food storage plan.

By having an adequate food storage plan based on your specific needs and preferences, you can develop a robust stockpile of essential items that can keep you and your family fed during even the harshest emergency scenarios. 

To help you better understand  food storage for beginners, let’s discuss  why storing food is important, how to start food storage.We’ll even share some tips for how to store emergency food like a pro.  

Why is a Food Storage Plan Important?

food storage plan

Humans have been using a variety of techniques for food storage for millennia. Before our recent luxuries like refrigeration and trucking, food storage was necessary to preserve food and survive through the winter. Food storage essentials could be the difference between death and surviving  a bad harvest.

In our daily lives now, food storage is less of a necessity. We’re accustomed to getting whatever food we need at a moment's notice from the grocery store or, better yet,  just ordering delivery. 

However, having a well-developed food storage plan and a robust stockpile and knowing the proper way of storing survival food is still essential, even for modern life. 

Importance of Self-Reliance and Independence

They say it takes a village to raise a family, but nobody is going to care for your family the way that you do. There are times in life when you can’t depend on other people to keep you and those you lose safe and well-fed. By having the basic food storage essentials on hand at home, you remain self-reliant and independent; you don’t have to trust in other people or grocery stores to feed yourself and your family.

Yes, you may need to resupply from time to time. But for the most part, you should have everything you need for well-balanced and nutritious meals at home if you learn about food storage essentials.

Safety and Security of Preparedness

Being prepared with emergency food provides you and your family with an unprecedented amount of safety and security. The world today is unpredictable. It’s impossible to know if we will be forced to stay inside our homes due to wildfire smoke, a pandemic, blizzard, economic depression,  food shortage, or some other type of emergency scenario. When you understand food storage essentials, you can be prepared to take care of yourself and your family regardless of what’s happening outside your front door. 


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How to Get Started With Emergency Food Storage Essentials

If you want to start storing emergency food, you don’t need to drop everything you do and spend your life savings to become an off-grid prepper. Instead, you can develop a methodical food storage plan to help you gradually attain your food storage goals.  

Here are some steps you can follow to guide you in the direction of eventually having a fully-fledged food storage stockpile.  

Food Storage for Beginners: Start Small

Contrary to popular belief– the best way to start food prepping for beginners is slow and steady. In other words, you don’t have to go out and buy hundreds of cans of Campbell’s soup, MREs from the army surplus store, and a 20-pound bag of rice. 

Instead, we recommend starting with small attainable goals. For example, one simple way to build up a stockpile is to buy one extra food item more than you normally would.  Another great way to start small is to focus on stockpiling one type of food first, then moving on to other items.  

Work Within Your Budget

The most effective way to keep track of your food storage is with a budget. Designing a budget helps to prevent overspending and buying unnecessary items. 

To create a budget for food storage, first, consider your monthly income. Then take your monthly expenses into account. Then, once you know how to spare a little extra money for food storage essentials, you can begin prepping types and quantities of food that fall within your budget.  

Consider the Needs of Your Family

cold food storage for beginners

Every family is different. Therefore, every food storage plan is different. What works for your neighbors might be different from what your family needs. 

So as you begin designing your food storage plan, consider the following items.

  • Daily recommended caloric intake

  • General food preferences

  • Food allergies

  • Dietary restrictions 

Look for Good Deals

The food you buy for emergency food storage does not have to be full price. One of the best ways to slowly build up your stockpile is to buy items when they are on sale. 

For example, buy-one-get-one specials are no-brainers for staple items you always buy, like pasta. Clearance racks and coupon booklets are also good places to look for discounted food, just be sure to watch those expiration dates.  You want food that’s going to last for a while.  

And, of course, always pay attention to when we release our seasonal discount specials.   

Focus on Food You Enjoy

Unfortunately, some people forget that the food you include in your food storage plan should be the food you enjoy eating. For example, it makes no sense to keep tins of sardines in your pantry if you hate the smell of fish. 

So when you are growing food, shopping for good deals at the market, or investing in professionally prepared and packed emergency food, select the food you enjoy eating the most. 

That way, when disaster strikes and you must rely on your food storage, you can happily and comfortably consume the food you spent so much time preparing. 

Label Everything

Labeling your emergency food to stay organized and keep track of expiration dates is important. This will help you to ensure that you have food that is safe to eat and that you are not wasting resources.

There are a few different ways to label your emergency food. You can use a permanent marker to write the date on the container, or you can use a label maker. You can also use a sticker or a piece of tape to label the container.

It is important to label the food with the following information:

  • The name of the food

  • The expiration date

  • The number of servings

  • The preparation instructions

Create an Inventory List

Inventory List

Having a well-stocked food storage pantry is an integral part of being prepared for an emergency. By keeping an accurate inventory list, you can be sure that you have the food you need to get through a difficult time.

An inventory list can be as simple as a written or typed spreadsheet. There are also many online tools and apps that can help you create and manage an inventory list.

An inventory list is important for keeping track of the emergency food items in your food storage pantry because it helps you to:

  • Know what you have on hand to plan meals and avoid wasting food.

  • Ensure you have enough food to last for the desired period.

  • Identify items that need to be replaced.

  • Track the expiration dates of food items.

  • Make sure you have a variety of foods to choose from.

  • Keep track of the cost of your food storage.

Learn How to Preserve Food

One of the most effective ways to build up a stockpile of emergency food is to shop for good deals and stash store-bought food items. However, your food storage plan should include more than store-bought food items.

Your food storage plan should also include ways that you personally can preserve food. For example, drying herbs you grow, pickling veggies from the garden, dehydrating fruits, or repackaging rice into mylar bags.

Learning how to employ different food preservation techniques based on what you have available to you and the food you enjoy eating is one of the best ways to get prepared.  

The Essential Food Preservation Techniques for Beginners

There are many different techniques to preserve food—some of which you probably already employ, like keeping food in the freezer. All of these techniques have a place in food storage essentials, but which ones you choose depends on your own personal needs. 

Having a well-rounded food storage plan that relies on multiple techniques will help you to be able to store a wider variety of foods. For example, pickling is a great way to preserve excess food from the garden harvest, freezing is ideal for meat and poultry, and drying is perfect for herbs and spices.  


dried food and fruits

Drying food is a method of food preservation that removes water from food to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. You can dry food by exposing it to the sun, wind, or a dehydrator. Drying food can extend its shelf life for months or even years.

There are many different ways to dry food. Some common methods include:

  • Sun drying: This is the oldest method of food drying. Food is simply spread out on a surface in the sun and allowed to dry.

  • Air drying: This method is similar to sun drying, but the food is dried in a cool, dry place with good air circulation.

  • Dehydrating: This is a more modern method of food drying that uses a machine to remove the water from food.

Dried food be rehydrated by soaking it in water or cooking it. It is also a convenient and lightweight food to take on camping trips or other outdoor activities.


Freezing food is a great way to preserve it for long-term storage. When food is frozen, the water molecules inside it expand and form ice crystals. These ice crystals damage the food's cells (cause your fruits and vegetables to be softer than they were fresh)  but also prevent bacteria from growing. This makes frozen food safe to eat for months or even years.

To freeze food, simply pack it in airtight containers or bags and place it in the freezer. Be sure to label the containers with the date so you know how long it has been frozen. Some foods, such as meat and poultry, should be thawed in the refrigerator before cooking. Others, such as fruits and vegetables, can be cooked frozen.


Fermentation is a process of anaerobically breaking down a substance using  using microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria. It is a natural process used for centuries to preserve food and make beverages. 

There are two main types of fermentation– alcoholic fermentation and lactic acid fermentation. 

  • Alcoholic fermentation is the process by which yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages are made through this process.

  • Lactic acid fermentation is the process by which bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid. You can use this fermentation process to make yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. 

Fermenting is a great way to preserve vegetables.  This can be in a sauerkraut or kimchi, as pickles, or just on their own.  They end up with a delightfully sour flavor. Some fermented garlic might be just what you need to spice up the meals made from your food storage essentials. 


Pickling is a method of preserving food by submerging it in a solution of vinegar, water, salt, and spices. The acidity of the vinegar prevents the growth of bacteria, which can cause food to spoil. Pickling can be used to preserve a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, meats, and eggs.


Curing is a food preservation method that uses salt, sugar, or smoke to draw out moisture and inhibit the growth of bacteria. It is a traditional method of preserving food that has been used for centuries. Curing can be used to preserve a variety of foods, including meat, fish, and vegetables.

The process of curing food typically involves soaking the food in a solution of salt, sugar, or smoke. The salt or sugar draws out moisture from the food, while the smoke adds flavor and helps prevent bacteria growth. 

Curing can also be used to add flavor to food. For example, bacon is cured with salt and sugar, giving it its flavor.


Canning is a method of preserving food by heating it and then sealing it in airtight containers. This process kills any harmful bacteria that may be present in the food and prevents the growth of new bacteria. You can use canning to preserve various foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood.

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Short-Term Food Storage Essentials

Short-term food storage consists of items with a short shelf life. These are  foods that will be good for a few days, to weeks, or possibly a few months.

Examples of short-term foods include:

  • Fresh fruits

  • Fresh veggies

  • Leftovers in the fridge

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) 

Long-Term Food Storage Essentials

Long-term food storage consists of food items with a long shelf life, ranging from many months to several years (and even decades).  

Examples of long-term foods include:

  • Bulk goods, like rice, beans, flour, quinoa, pasta, and oats

  • Freeze-dried meals

  • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables

Besides a reliably long shelf-life, quantity is another vital key for long-term food storage. 

In other words, you don’t only want the food you store to last a long time on the shelf. You also want to have enough food to feed yourself and your family for a prolonged period. Doing so will help you survive longer-drawn-out emergencies and SHTF scenarios.

The Importance of Professionally Prepared Emergency Food

Learning to prep a stockpile of emergency food is a super important skill. It’s also a lifestyle choice that allows you to become more self-reliant in control of your food security, no matter the scenario. 

However, if we are being honest– it’s a lot of work. And unless you have ample free time to commit to it, you may need some assistance, which is where we come in.

Valley Food Storage specializes in creating professionally prepared and packaged freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food. Our products range from pre-built survival food kits to sustain you through short-term emergencies to bulk survival food buckets that can keep your family fed for months at a time. 

We have a selection of long-term emergency food storage solutions.

These supplies of professionally packaged foods can last up to 25 years!  They include a variety of food options that will keep your family comfortable and happy. 

  • Breakfast options: apple cream of wheat, strawberry oatmeal, powdered eggs, and powdered milk.

  • Lunch options: white bean and lime chili, sweet and sour Asian rice, and pasta a la king

  • Dinner options: fettuccine alfredo, tomato basil soup, and honey teriyaki rice. 

Advantages of Professionally Prepared Emergency Food

We fully support your commitment to autonomously controlling the food you grow, buy, preserve and stockpile as part of your emergency preparedness plan. That’s why we’ve created products to assist you in developing robust emergency food storage. 

  • Nutritious ingredients: our food products are made with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients. We refuse to use chemical preservatives and other unhealthy food fillers.  

  • Reliable packaging: we use food-grade safe mylar bags and food-grade safe buckets to protect our food from exposure to light, moisture, oxidation, insects, and rodents. 

  • Impressively long shelf life: because of our packaging and food preparation processes, our products can last over 25 years while maintaining their original nutritional value and flavor. 

  • Tons of options: our menu items are as varietal as your diet. You can enjoy classics like mac n’ cheese, Italian wild Risooto, chili, tomato basil soup, and pasta primavera. 

Final Thoughts on How To Start Food Storage

Building up a stockpile of food storage essentials does not have to happen overnight. Instead, you can gradually expand your resources over time. 

By developing a food storage plan and methodically chipping away at your food storage goals, you will develop a cache of supplies you can be proud of– one that will help provide safety and security to you and your family when disaster strikes. 

We hope you found this article helpful. If you are ready to pick up a few food storage essentials, visit our website. Or to learn more about food storage for beginners, visit our Practical Prepper Blog